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Shaila Catherine's Dharma Talks
Shaila Catherine
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Shaila Catherine, has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience. She has taught since 1996 in the USA, and internationally. Shaila has dedicated several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand, completed a one year intensive meditation retreat with the focus on concentration and jhana, and authored Focused and Fearless: A Meditator’s Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity. Shaila Catherine has practiced under the guidance of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw since 2006; she authored Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana to help make this traditional approach to meditative training accessible to western practitioners. She is the founder of Insight Meditation South Bay, a Buddhist meditation center in Silicon Valley.
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2014-07-01 Roles, Relationships, and Awakening 38:16
This talk was given as a part of the series "Where Rubber Meets the Road: A Series on Mindful Living." We live in a world that requires a diversity of relationships. How do you choose your friends? What kind of relationships support or stunt your spiritual growth? How do you relate to life, and to love? We can bring wisdom and mindfulness to our interactive lives, to the roles that we perform, to our intimate sexual relationships, and our friendships; we practice both in solitude and in community. Harmony, generosity, and joy are developed through noble friendship. Relationships can challenge us to work with the tendencies of our own minds, clarify our precepts, develop compassion, learn to let go, and nurture the path of awakening. Deep friendship is considered to be the precursor of right view. A good friend encourages the best in us and supports our development of the noble eight fold path.
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Tuesday Talks
2014-05-27 Mindfulness Sacred or Secular? 26:58
Shaila Catherine gave this concluding talk in a guest speaker series that was organized to stimulate critical inquiry about mindfulness and how the teachings about mindfulness are manifesting in western cultures. This talk presents critical thinking, reflection, and discussion as integral elements of Buddhist practice. It refers to the early Buddhist custom of reciting teachings, sharing the Dhamma, and inviting correction and criticism about how the Dhamma was presented and taught. As mindfulness practices become mainstreamed, and applied in corporations and therapeutic contexts, some concern arises that the deep and liberating teachings of emptiness might be ignored as non-Buddhists, and sometimes non-practitioners, assert their own definitions of mindfulness in the media. This brief talk concludes with reflection questions about: 1. the meaning and definition of mindfulness—how is mindfulness different from attention? 2. how are ethics taught in Buddhist and secular applications of mindfulness? 3. how are secular interests affecting the development of western lay Buddhism?
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Tuesday Talks
2014-03-15 The Unsurpassed Happiness of Insight and Liberation —Talk, Guided Meditation, and Question and Answers 49:13
This talk explores insight practice (vipassana) as a profound approach to the unsurpassed happiness of liberation. Awakening (realization of nibbana) arises through the clear seeing of mind and matter as they actually are. Insight into the impermanent, unsatisfactory, and empty nature of things leads to a profound disenchantment and dispassion toward what was previously clung to. Mind and matter will never the a reliable basis for lasting happiness. Seeing this, the mind releases its habits of craving temporary pleasures, and clinging to things that change. The insight into impermanence is the spark for the most profound state of peace and joy, and creates a pleasant dwelling in this very life, even for the Arahant. The talk is followed by a guided meditation that encourages the observation of changing feelings, formations, mental states and emotions—seeing the impermanent nature of all experiences.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2014-03-15 Happiness of a Concentrated Mind—Talk and Guided Meditation 39:54
This is a talk on the theme of the joy of seclusion, followed immediately by a guided meditation on concentration using the breath as the focus. A concentrated mind is a happy mind. Joy, rapture, happiness, pleasure, sublime bliss, peacefulness, and equanimity are intrinsic to concentrated states. This brief talk introduces the four states of concentrated absorption known as the four jhanas and the immaterial states of infinite space, infinite consciousness, the base of nothingness or emptiness, and the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception. In Buddhism, not only is the rapture and pleasure of attaining jhana a form of happiness, but the deep ease and equanimity of the immaterial states are considered to be refined forms of happiness.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2014-03-15 Happiness of Simplicity and Renunciation 18:06
An uncluttered mind and heart brings great joy! Contentment is a state of serene ease, free from the fear of loss. Letting go and renunciation are taught as joyful practices, not penance. The Buddha taught his disciples to "abandon what is not yours, this will lead to your welfare and happiness for a long time". So we ask, what is "not ours"? And by implication, what is really mine? Joyful renunciation enables meditators to investigate the delusion of possessiveness until the mind if freed of all clinging to the impermanent experiences that really cannot be grasped anyway.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2014-03-15 Happiness and the Gladness of Non-remorse 43:19
This talk introduces a series of talks on the theme of happiness, and addresses a tension found in Buddhism between teachings that emphasis suffering, and teachings that encourage profound joy. In the Buddha's teachings a distinction is made between sensual pleasures, and pleasures that develop through wholesome states of virtue, renunciation, concentration, or insight. Happiness can be supportive for practice, and this talk encourages us to enjoy meditation, to open to natural pleasures, and to cultivate delight in the dhamma, but we must understand if the support for our joy is skillful. By reflecting on our virtuous acts, generosity, and meritorious deeds, and by recollecting the noble qualities of the Buddha, we can delight the mind, stimulate self-respect and self-esteem, and inspire our practice with a wholesome source of joy.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
2013-10-01 Investigating Aversion and Anger 38:15
This recording begins with approximately 20 minutes of teachings on anger, followed by a little less than 20 minutes of a guided meditative reflection. The talk examines the force of aversion, anger, hatred, and hostility as manifestations of what in Pali are called dose-rooted states. Rather than criticize and judge ourselves when anger arises, we extract ourselves from the story of anger, and practice seeing it as an experience of suffering—as dukkha. Anger does not happen to us; we actively engage in the process. Therefore, through clear seeing and wise inquiry, we can change the conditions that perpetuate anger in our lives. Often anger arises when there is unwise attention to an unpleasant sensory or mental contact. We can learn to work mindfully with these deeply conditioned tendencies and feeling how it manifests in the body, become aware of the feeling tone (vedana), recognize the mental state, and discern how it functions—its origin, cessation, and way leading to its cessation. The primary antidote is mindfulness.
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Tuesday Talks
2013-09-29 Contentment with Voidness 39:14
This talk explores the concepts of self and not-self, and how we conceive of a self by clinging to sensory experiences. How do you construct the sense of being a someone, and the notion that you possess something? The process of selfing is addressed as a form of thought. We can intentionally investigate how the identification forms, what it depends upon, and liberate the mind from it's hold. Restless thinking often fuels self concepts with thoughts about me, what I desire, or the projects I am planning. The formation of identity is seductive, and even jhana states and meditative attainments can become the basis for clinging if the meditator is not watchful. As we awaken to the empty nature of mind, we might ask: will nothing be enough? Do you experience in seeing, only seeing; in hearing, only the hearing; in sensing, only sensing; in cognizing, only the cognizing? Or does the habit of conceiving of a self in experience complicate perception and cause discontent with the basic truth of emptiness?
Insight Meditation Center of the Mid-Peninsula
2013-09-10 Five Preconditions for Insight: Wisdom (the fifth precondition) 36:03
The Buddha taught that there are five preconditions necessary for the development of meditation practice in seclusion—good friends, virtue and restraint, engaging in talk on the Dhamma, wise effort, wisdom. These preconditions, presented in the Meghiya Sutta, are developed progressively and support one another, with wisdom as the crowning jewel and chief. This talk explores the importance of wisdom for revealing the impermanent nature of all things. With the clarity of wisdom we discern the arising and passing of phenomena. This insight into impermanence undercuts habitual delusions that perpetuate blindly grasping and clinging transient things. Wisdom is important at all stages of the path. At the beginning of our practice, we need wisdom to discern the right direction, clarify our purpose and learn skillful methods; we need wisdom in the midst of the practice to make the many adjustments that sustain us on this path; and the path culminates in the wisdom that leads to release. With wisdom, we will see the changing nature of all things, and understand how we construct our perception of reality, discern the four noble truths of suffering, and recognize how we can realize the end of suffering.
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Tuesday Talks
2013-09-03 Five Preconditions for Insight: Wise Effort (the fourth precondition) 33:04
The Buddha taught that there are five preconditions necessary for the development of meditation practice in seclusion—good friends, virtue and restraint, engaging in talk on the Dhamma, wise effort, wisdom. These preconditions, presented in the Meghiya Sutta, are developed progressively and support one another. This talk explores the role of effort and energy on the path of awakening. We make the effort to avoid and abandon unwholesome states, and to cultivate and maintain wholesome states. We apply our energy with diligence and balance. If too lax we will fall short of the goal and permit obstructions to distract the attention; if there is too much striving and forced effort we will exhaust ourselves and become discouraged. Right effort is balanced between relaxation and vigor; it is appropriate to the situation—applying just enough strength to meet the current conditions with wisdom and clarity. Skillful effort requires the commitment to endure difficult and painful situations without becoming disheartened. We persevere on our path, adjusting the quality of effort with mindfulness and sensitivity.
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Tuesday Talks

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